My answer to: WHY I AM RUNNING FOR THE LABOR PARTY LEADERSHIP
Dear Amir Peretz,
Yes, poverty in Israel indicates an important government failure. Any serious opposition party should easily focus on it, since somehow the present coalition doesn’t seem to understand that so much poverty is bad, even for the rich.
(After all, if one strengthens — with money, not with tax deductions, because the poor don’t pay taxes — the poor, society becomes more just and stable, which is a rich person’s dream come true. Besides, when the poor get more money, they are going to spend it and the economy is going to improve even more. It’s silly of the Right to neglect the poor; the Left should seize the opportunity to make the case against poverty.) However, it is not enough for the Left to protest, to “be right.” They should aim to win, gain influence and power – not just prepare to be dismissed and rejected for one’s idealistic beliefs.
As soon as a Left-winger stops dreaming of contributing to a better future for all, s/he’s stopped being a Left-winger. Progressives must dream. Yet, that does not mean that Left-wingers must be unrealistic. And I’m not sure that the Israeli Left understands this already.
Reality – like it or not – seems to say:
- The vast majority of Israelis are done with the Left. (Thank you for the disastrous Peace Process.)
- A democrat cannot blame the population for not voting for their party. The population is always right. If one can’t make one’s case, the politician failed, not the voter. Barak cannot stop saying that the voters are wrong for not liking him.
- I’m not sure if all People around the world vote with their wallet/pocketbook (according to what is best for them financially, and not necessarily for what is wisest or morally best – compare http://www.alexanderboot.com/people-dont-vote-with-their-wallets-they-vote-with-their-hearts/) but for sure Israelis don’t. Security and hope for safety and quiet are just more important here than being comfortable financially.
- Bibi, the capitalist, pragmatist and democrat, is going strong and it seems that he will go strong for years to come. If he would fall, it will not be because of any opposition.
Therefore, though important as it is, no one championing the poor will overtake Bibi. One still should make fighting poverty the core of one’s Left-wing party platform. However, tell the voters that with their support one wants to join the present coalition to influence it for the better for all. Be an alternative that Bibi cannot refuse, that will liberate him from the choke hold of the chareidi parties.
Voters are sick of political parties fighting each other. A constructive approach will draw many votes. “Make Bibi turn Left” would be a good slogan. But “Down with Bibi” is just another Left-wing pipe dream, preparing for one’s own failure, sending the Left for another four years to the reserve bench. Obviously, the more people vote for turning Bibi Left, the more Left he may be turned.
A Left-winger who talks like a realist and pragmatist will do more for the poor and the country than the dreamer and idealist who must complain and accuse and will accomplish nothing but resentment and being pleased with oneself.
Last but not least, a word to the Left in Israel in general. Let’s face it: If the vast majority prefers Netanyahu, and it does, then you speaking bad of (severely ranting about) him is not going to make him less popular. Rather, it’s going to make you even less popular than you are already. What do you want: be sincere and self-righteous or effective in implementing change and improvement?
I’m not the only one who thought so: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/377400